The Magical History Of Mermaids by Russ Thorne (book review).

The Magical History Of Mermaids by Russ Thorne
Front cover: © Tiffany Toland-Scott 2018

I’m fascinated by how mythologies along similar themes exist across the world. Oddly, as Russ Thorne points out in this book, ‘The Magical History Of Mermaids’, the western world was a little late with this. The name varies across the nations but half-human/half-fish-tail beings first started in Assyria, hardly the wettest place in the world.

It was largely because of Hans Christian Anderson’s story, ‘The Little Mermaid’ that it became embedded in our side of the world, although I would have thought Greek/Roman mythology might have a say about that with Poseidon/Neptune, although there is a only a brief reference.

The Magical History Of Mermaids by Russ Thorne
pp10–11: both: © Jasmine Becket-Griffith 2018 (

The tales from across the various countries do tend to depict mermaids as not being particularly nice creatures as a whole. Even though there is some confusion with the manatees, who are the nicest creatures, you do have to wonder why mermaids are seen in such bad light. Well, unless you fancy a life under the waves with them, short of drowning that is. Their dual nature never stopped them being turned into statues on all kinds of things. It’s a shame that there weren’t photographs to show them as this would have improved the book as a reference guide.

The Magical History Of Mermaids by Russ Thorne
pp28–29: © Joana Shino 2018 and © Josephine Wall 2018

Mermaids in the media, mostly films, are covered quite extensively. Interestingly, when it comes to media mermaids, both the ‘Miranda’ films starring Glenis Johns are missed. It’s hardly like they are never reshown on TV, especially these days.

The Magical History Of Mermaids by Russ Thorne
pp44–45: © Olivia Rose 2018 and © Laura Csajagi 2018

There is an interview with Mermaid Grace and accompanying photo about her professional job wearing a tail and how experience of being a free diver and a tolerance of cold water helps.

The Magical History Of Mermaids by Russ Thorne
pp100–101: © Rebecca Sinz 2018 and © Ginger Kelly Studio 2018/© Lauren Kelly Small 2018 (

What is the real selling point for this book is the art. Loads of mermaids. Perhaps not by the big artist names but all highly respectable. I even got used to the ones with the large eyes. Enjoy the samples.

GF Willmetts

January 2021

(pub: Flame Tree Publishing. 129 page square hardback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK) $15.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-78664-793-1)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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